Although clinical care is multidisciplinary, intensive care unit research commonly focuses on single-discipline themes. We sought to characterize intensive care unit research conducted by physicians and nurses.


One hundred randomly selected reports of clinical studies published in critical care medical and nursing journals were reviewed.


Of the 100 articles reviewed, 50 were published in medical journals and 50 were published in nursing journals. Only 1 medical study (2%) used qualitative methods, compared with 9 nursing studies (18%) (P = .02). The distribution of quantitative study designs differed between medical and nursing journals (P < .001), with medical journals having a predominance of cohort studies (29 articles [58%]). Compared with medical journal articles, nursing journal articles had significantly fewer authors (median [interquartile range], 5 [3-6] vs 8 [6-10]; P < .001) and study participants (94 [51-237] vs 375 [86-4183]; P < .001) and a significantly lower proportion of male study participants (55% [26%-65%] vs 60% [51%-65%]; P = .02). Studies published in medical journals were much more likely than those published in nursing journals to exclusively involve patients as participants (47 [94%] vs 25 [50%]; P < .001). Coauthorship between physicians and nurses was evident in 14 articles (14%), with infrequent inclusion of authors from other health care disciplines.


Physician research and nurse research differ in several important aspects and tend to occur within silos. Increased interprofessional collaboration is possible and worthwhile.

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